Jamaal Williams is off to his best start to a season in his six years as an NFL running back, and there’s the possibility he could shoulder more of the load in the immediate future for the Detroit Lions.
That’s because fellow back D’Andre Swift is dealing with a shoulder sprain — an injury that makes his availability week-to-week, according to ESPN — on top of an ankle injury.
That has Lions coach Dan Campbell considering sitting Swift for the team’s next two games — against Seattle and New England — before Detroit’s Week 6 bye to give him a rest.
“We’ve thought about that,” Campbell told reporters Monday. “That was one of the things I was thinking about last night and this morning, so it’s certainly, it’s on my mind, it’s on our mind. If you feel like he’s good enough to go, we know what he’s capable of but not at the expense of him not being even up to 75% of himself.”
Swift has run for 231 yards and one touchdown with an 8.9 yards-per-carry average so far in 2022.
Williams, meanwhile, is also off to a solid start individually for the 1-2 Lions.
Through the season’s first three weeks, Williams, BYU’s all-time leading rusher, is tied with Cleveland’s Nick Chubb for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns with four.
That already ties Williams’ season-high mark for rushing touchdowns — he had four as a rookie with Green Bay in 2017.
On the year, Williams has rushed for 168 yards with a 3.9 per-carry average and is on pace to run for over 900 yards.
His best statistical season came last year, when he ran for 601 yards and three touchdowns in his first season in Detroit after four years with the Packers.
In Sunday’s 28-24 loss to Minnesota, Williams had his second two-touchdown game of the season while rushing for 87 yards, his best rushing day since 2019, on 20 carries.
“I’m just trying to do my job and help the team win in any way I can,” Williams told reporters after the loss, per the team’s official YouTube channel.
Detroit’s two losses, including a 38-35 setback to Philadelphia in Week 1, have been by a total of seven points.
On Sunday, the Lions built a 24-14 third-quarter lead after Williams scored his second touchdown, 13-yarder.
Minnesota rallied for two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including one with 45 seconds to play, to steal the win.
“You put in so much work, you’re so close and we just didn’t finish it out,” Williams said about losing on the road after holding a double-digit second half lead. “... That’s something on us as players and the vets on the team, just keep everybody steady, focused and understanding NFL games aren’t done until it’s zero on that clock.”
If Swift does miss time, Williams is likely to share the running back load with Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson, according to the Detroit Free Press.
What’s his message for the team after coming up short this past week?
“It’s only Week 3, man. We’ve got so much ball to go,” Williams said. “We’re playing at a level, from last year, that’s much improved. Our potential is limitless. We’ve just got to believe and keep pushing and stay hungry.”